Steelers running back cited for possession of marijuana

August 20, 2014
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell is assisted off the field after injuring himself during a play in the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

When the Steelers announced their starting offense for last Saturday’s preseason game at Heinz Field, Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount were each introduced.

Now, it appears that both could find themselves in head coach Mike Tomlin’s doghouse.

Police in Ross Township Wednesday cited Bell with possession of 20 grams marijuana when a vehicle he was operating was pulled over on McKnight Road in a routine traffic stop. Bell, who was driving the black Camero with Blount and female passenger, who also was cited, was charged with DUI. Blount was not charged yet, but head coach Mike Tomlin certainly won’t be happy with his involvement.

The two were on their way to the team’s flight to Philadelphia for today’s preseason game against the Eagles.

The charges are considered misdemeanors and the citations will be issued via mail.

Bell, who was taken to an area hospital for blood testing, did not make the trip to Philadelphia with the team. Blount was released and traveled on the team flight.

What this means for the future of Bell will depend on whether this is his first strike under the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

First-time offenders are entered into the league’s substance abuse program and are subject to more stringent testing.

Any discipline from the league would not come until the case is resolved. Earlier this week, Kansas City wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was suspended for the regular season opener by the NFL after being cited for marijuana possession during a traffic stop last November.

A second offense would draw an automatic, and more lengthy, suspension by the league.

“We are aware of the reports and are still gathering information,” said Steelers Communications Coordinator Burt Lauten. “We will have no further comment at this time.”

Bell is the first Steelers player to be cited for marijuana possession since wide receiver Santonio Holmes was pulled over by Pittsburgh police in 2008 following a midweek practice.

Head coach Mike Tomlin declared that he did not want Holmes’ citation to serve as a distraction and benched the receiver for the following game against the New York Giants. Later that season, Holmes, who was not suspended by the league for the violation, was named the MVP of the team’s Super Bowl victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

But Holmes was traded to the New York Jets following the 2009 season as he faced a four-game suspension for a second postive test for marijuana. Holmes served his suspension with New York.

Bell, the Steelers’ second-round pick in last year’s draft, rushed for 860 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013 when he set a team rookie record with 1,259 total yards from scrimmage.

Blount was signed as a free agent in the offseason to be Bell’s backup. He rushed for 772 yards in 2013 with New England.

Dale Lolley has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1993 after previously working at WJAC-TV and the Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, and The Derrick in Oil City. A native of Fryburg, Pa., he is a graduate of North Clarion High School and the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, where he earned a degree in journalism. He has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers since joining the Observer-Reporter in 1993, and also serves as the outdoors editor. He also is a radio host for Pittsburgh’s ESPN 970-AM, and serves as administrative adviser for the Red & Black, Washington & Jefferson College’s student newspaper.

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